WALMART PLUS ARRIVES: The retail giant unveils its long-anticipated $98 annual membership offering free grocery delivery and fuel discounts as an alternative to Amazon Prime

  • Walmart is launching Walmart+, a membership program costing $98 annually, on September 15 nationwide. 
  • Many analysts see Walmart+ as a direct competitor to Amazon Prime, which costs $119 annually.
  • The program's biggest perks include fuel discounts of up to $0.05 per gallon and free unlimited delivery on orders of more than 160,000 items, including groceries and general merchandise. 
  • Walmart+ orders can be delivered as soon as the same day. Walmart typically charges customers a grocery delivery fee of $7.95 to $9.95 per order.
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Walmart plans to launch its highly anticipated membership program, Walmart+, nationwide on September 15, the company said Tuesday.

Walmart+ will cost $98 annually, or $12.95 monthly, and offer fuel discounts as well as free unlimited delivery on orders of groceries, toys, and more. Walmart typically charges customers a grocery delivery fee of $7.95 to $9.95 per order.

Walmart+ members will have the option for same-day delivery on their orders, which will be primarily fulfilled by Walmart stores. 

"Members can shop more than more than 160,000 items at in-store prices, whether that be fresh produce, meat, and seafood, to everyday essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper — as well as some toys, electronics, and other general merchandise items, which can be delivered straight to their door as soon as the same day," Walmart chief customer officer Janey Whiteside said in a call with reporters.

The fuel discounts will offer up to $0.05 per gallon at 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express gas stations. Sam's Club stations will soon be added to this list, the company said.

Walmart+ members will also get access to Scan & Go within the Walmart App, which enables customers to scan items with their phones while they shop and check out using Walmart Pay.

Walmart has been testing the free delivery perk in limited markets since last year as part of a program called Delivery Unlimited. Once Walmart+ launches, Delivery Unlimited members will automatically become Walmart+ members. 

Whiteside said customers have "loved" Delivery Unlimited.

"We've had really great feedback from customers on how much it's been able to save them time," she said. 

How Walmart+ compares to Amazon Prime

Many analysts see Walmart+ as a direct competitor to Amazon Prime, which costs $119 annually and offers free two-day shipping on all orders through Amazon.com and free delivery of groceries from Whole Foods stores and Amazon Fresh, as well as streaming of movies, shows, and music.

Whiteside said the company isn't focused on competing with Prime, however. 

"We're not launching Walmart plus with the intent to compete with anything else," she said. "We're launching it to meet the needs of our customers, and it really was designed to make their busy lives easier."

She said Walmart plans to add to the list of Walmart+ membership benefits over time. 

"These benefits are not intended to be static," Whiteside said. "In the future, we will be leveraging our wide-ranging strengths to add additional benefits for members in a range of both services and offerings."

She said the company did not plan to provide any perks to Walmart+ members that could detract from the shopping experience of non-members, however, such as priority for grocery pickup time slots.

"That was really important for us, as we [thought] about customers who want to benefit from Walmart, but don't have the intention or the means to be able to enroll in a membership program," she said. 

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